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Rugby

Mike Umaga (by Willie Whitesmith)
Mike Umaga made his debut

K's win on Umaga's debut

By Robert Jones
Former Coventry coach Mike Umaga made a winning start to his player/coaching role with Kenilworth in Midlans Two West.

Camp Hill 6 Kenilworth 20

Saturday, 13 January

Cold, dark, windy conditions and a quagmire on the outer echelons of Shirley Park provided the backdrop to a hard-fought victory for Kenilworth over plucky Camp Hill, who for much of the game adopted the better approach to a difficult playing surface. However, sound defence and sensible attacking once again carried the day for the visitors and their extra-large band of travelling support, in the process maintaining their lead in Midlands Two West.

With the wind at their backs, Kenilworth were soon on the attack. Mike Umaga, making his debut, surged through, the ball eventually reaching lock Ian Phillips in support near the line. As the ball was about to be grounded, referee Nick Houghton adjudged that crossing had occurred. This was the signal for Camp Hill to close up the game, with scrum-half Marc Chetland and his back row orchestrating progress in the tight. The efficiency of this approach frustrated the visitors for long periods of the game, and saw them frequently penalised, sometimes for questioning decisions. Their first telling break came on ten minutes, James Hersey feeding Elliot Brown, whose speedy incursion into the home 22 ended with a dropped ball. Two minutes later, a Lee Cassell penalty opened Kenilworth’s account. The centre pairing of Umaga and Hersey was always dangerous but the bulk of the action involved pick and drive by the forwards, with Camp Hill getting the better of most exchanges. This paid off after 29 minutes when the K’s conceded a penalty in front of the posts for holding on in the tackle, Chetland slotting the goal to level the scores. Subsequent sporadic attacks, during one of which Gareth Renowden crossed but had a foot in touch, culminated in a try for the combative and ever-supportive flanker Phil Jones, Cassell converting on the half-hour. Umaga and Cassell then combined to send Elliot Brown away again but he was felled just short of the line. However, his efforts were rewarded on 35 minutes with a try that followed a move in which James Burnside, Sam Wood and Hersey were prominent. Two more scoring opportunities came the way of the flying winger before the interval. The first saw a Hersey pass swirl away from him as the line beckoned; then a Kenilworth penalty for a high tackle rather than a try was the referee’s decision. The score at the break was 3-15.

The opening exchanges of the second half mirrored those of the first, with the home side driving up field and frustrating their opponents, who conceded penalties into the bargain. After six minutes, Chetland converted one of these to reduce the deficit. A rather tedious, scrappy passage of play was temporarily halted when Mr. Houghton’s whistle ceased to function, perhaps from over-use. Around the start of the final quarter, Kenilworth got to grips with the game as the Camp Hill forwards tired. Wood created several good openings for Umaga and Hersey in particular, to gain ground. On 66 minutes, Peter Eruti replaced the hard-working Nick Collett at prop, and five minutes later, Andy Whitehall appeared in place of Elliot Brown. Play was now centered in the Camp Hill 22, with numerous line-outs and scrummages to the K’s. One of the latter near the line just failed to pay dividends before another, on 77 minutes, saw Renowden intelligently feed Luke Brown on the short side. The powerful winger completed the formalities but Cassell was unable to put over a difficult conversion.  Highlights of the final minutes were a stunning 40-metre break by Wood and tight defence by his team-mates. The score at the final whistle was 6-20.

Elliott and Luke Brown (by Willie Whitesmith)
Elliott and Luke Brown

Kenilworth: Cassell, E. Brown, Hersey, Umaga, L. Brown, Wood, Renowden, Booth, Smith, Collett, Powell, Phillips, Jones, Burnside, Eager (Capt.).
Replacements: Whitehall, Noon, Eruti.

Next Saturday (20 January) Kenilworth are at Silhillians for a Wawickshire Cup Quarter-Final. Kick-off is at 2.15pm.

All pictures by Willie Whitesmith.

last updated: 15/01/07
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